Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.

The Monkees

The Monkees

The Monkees are an American pop/rock band that released music in their original incarnation between 1966 and 1970, with subsequent reunion albums and tours in the decades that followed. Formed in Los Angeles in 1965 by Robert "Bob" Rafelson and Bert Schneider for the American television series The Monkees, which aired from 1966–1968, the musical acting quartet was composed of Americans Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork, and Englishman Davy Jones. The band's music was initially supervised by producer Don Kirshner.Described by Dolenz as initially being "a TV show about an imaginary band [...\] that wanted to be The Beatles, [but\] that was never successful", the actor-musicians soon became a real band. As Dolenz would later describe it, "The Monkees really becoming a band was like the equivalent of Leonard Nimoy really becoming a Vulcan."For the first few months of their almost five-year initial career, the four actor-musicians were allowed only limited roles in the recording studio. This was due in part to the excessive time spent filming the television series, which in turn limited the amount of time available to the group to rehearse and coalesce as a band. Nonetheless, Nesmith did compose and produce some songs from the beginning, and Peter Tork contributed limited guitar work on the Nesmith-produced sessions. They soon fought for and earned the right to collectively supervise all musical output under the band's name. Although the sitcom was canceled in 1968, the band continued to record music through 1971.In 1986, the television show experienced a revival, which led to a series of reunion tours and new records. Up until 2011, the group has reunited and toured several times, to varying degrees of success. Despite the sudden death of Davy Jones in February 2012, the surviving members reunited for a tour in November–December 2012, and again in 2013 for a 24-date tour.The Monkees had international hits, including "Last Train to Clarksville", "Pleasant Valley Sunday", and "Daydream Believer". At their peak in 1967, the band outsold both the Beatles and the Rolling Stones. As of 2012, their albums and singles have sold over 65 million copies worldwide.Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & JonesOn January 16, 1967, four months after their public debut, the Monkees held their first recording session as a fully functioning, self-contained band at RCA Recording Studios, Hollywood, CA, recording an early version of band member Nesmith's self-composed top 40 hit single "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", along with "All of Your Toys" and "She's So Far Out, She's In". The Monkees wanted to pick the songs they sang, and play on the songs they recorded, and be The Monkees. With Kirshner dismissed as Musical Supervisor, in late February 1967 Nesmith hired former Turtles bassist Douglas Farthing Hatlelid, who was better known by his stage name Chip Douglas, to produce the next Monkees album, which was to be the first Monkees album where they were the only musicians, outside of most of the bass, and the horns. Douglas was responsible for both music presentation—actually leading the band and engineering recordings—and playing bass on most of Headquarters. This album, along with their next, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. would serve as the soundtrack to the 2nd season of the TV Show.In March 1967, "The Girl I Knew Somewhere", composed by Nesmith, and performed by Dolenz, Nesmith, Tork & bassist John London, was issued as the B-side to The Monkees' 3rd single, "A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You", and it rose to No. 39 on the charts. The A-side rose to No. 2.Issued in May 1967, the album Headquarters had no songs released as singles in the United States, but it would still be their third No. 1 album in a row, with many of its songs played on the 2nd season of the TV Show. Having a more country-folk-rock sound than the pop outings under Kirshner, Sandoval notes in the 2007 Deluxe Edition reissue from Rhino that the album rose to No. 1 on June 24, 1967, with The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper released the following week, which would knock Headquarters to the number 2 spot on the charts for the next 11 weeks, the same weeks which would become known by the counterculture as the "Summer of Love". A selection that Dolenz wrote and composed, "Randy Scouse Git," was issued under the title "Alternate Title" (due to the controversial title of the song) as a single internationally, where it rose to No. 2 on the charts in the UK and Norway, and in the top 10 in other parts of the world. Peter Tork's "For Pete's Sake" would be used as the closing theme for the TV show. Michael Nesmith would continue in his country-rock leanings, adding the pedal steel guitar to 3 of the songs, along with contributing his self-composed countrified-rock song "Sunny Girlfriend". Tork added the banjo to the Nesmith composed rocker "You Told Me", a song whose introduction was satirical of The Beatles' "Taxman". Other notable songs are the Nesmith composed straight forward pop-rock song "You Just May Be the One", used on the TV series during both seasons, along with "Shades of Gray" (with piano introduction written by Tork ), "Forget that Girl" and "No Time", used in the TV show. The Monkees wrote 5 of the 12 songs on the album, plus the two tracks "Band 6" and "Zilch". The Los Angeles Times, when reviewing Headquarters, stated that "The Monkees Upgrade Album Quality" and that "The Monkees are getting better. Headquarters has more interesting songs and a better quality level [than previous albums\] ... None of the tracks is a throwaway [...\] The improvement trend is laudable." The high of Headquarters was short-lived, however. Recording and producing as a group was Tork's major interest and he hoped that the four would continue working together as a band on future recordings according to the liner notes of the 2007 Rhino reissue of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd.. "Cuddly Toy" on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. would mark the last time Dolenz, who originally played guitar before The Monkees, would make a solo stand as a studio drummer. In commentary for the DVD release of the second season of the show, Tork said that Dolenz was "incapable of repeating a triumph." Having been a drummer for one album, Dolenz lost interest in being a drummer, and indeed, he largely gave up playing instruments on Monkees recordings. (Producer Chip Douglas also had identified Dolenz's drumming as the weak point in the collective musicianship of the quartet, having to splice together multiple takes of Dolenz's "shaky" drumming for final use.) By this point, the four did not have a common vision regarding their musical interests, with Nesmith and Jones also moving in different directions, with Nesmith following his country/folk instincts and Jones reaching for Broadway-style numbers.The next three albums featured a diverse mixture of musical style influences, including country-rock, folk-rock, psychedelic rock, soul/R&B, guitar rock, Broadway, and English music hall sensibilities.At the height of their fame in 1967, they also suffered from a media backlash. Nesmith states in the 2007 Rhino reissue of Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., "Everybody in the press and in the hippie movement had got us into their target window as being illegitimate and not worthy of consideration as a musical force [or\] certainly any kind of cultural force. We were under siege; wherever we went there was such resentment for us. We were constantly mocked and humiliated by the press. We were really gettin' beat up pretty good. We all knew what was going on inside. Kirshner had been purged. We'd gone to try to make Headquarters and found out that it was only marginally okay and that our better move was to just go back to the original songwriting and song-making strategy of the first albums except with a clear indication of how [the music\] came to be [...\] The rabid element and the hatred that was engendered is almost impossible to describe. It lingers to this day among people my own age." Tork disagreed with Nesmith's assessment of Headquarters stating, "I don't think the Pisces album was as groovy to listen to as Headquarters. Technically it was much better, but I think it suffers for that reason." Both Headquarters and Pisces are highly revered by most Monkees fans.With Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., The Monkees fourth album, they went back to making music for the TV Show, except that they had control over the music, and which songs would be chosen. They used a mixture of themselves and session musicians on the album. They would use this strategy of themselves playing, plus adding session musicians (including The Wrecking Crew, Louie Shelton, Glen Campbell, members of the Byrds and the Association, drummer "Fast" Eddie Hoh, Lowell George, Stephen Stills, Buddy Miles and Neil Young) throughout their recording career, relying more on session musicians when the group became temporarily estranged after Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. and recorded some of their songs separately.Using Chip Douglas again to produce, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd., released in November 1967 was The Monkees fourth No. 1 album in a row, staying at No. 1 for 5 weeks, and was also their last No. 1 album. It featured the hit single "Pleasant Valley Sunday" (#3 on charts) b/w "Words" (#11 on charts), which the A-side had Nesmith on electric guitar/backing vocals, Tork on piano/backing vocals, Dolenz on lead vocals and possibly guitar, and Jones on backing vocals; the B-side had Micky and Peter alternating lead vocals, Peter played organ, Mike played guitar, percussion & provided backing vocals, and Davy provided percussion and backing vocals. Other notable items about this album is that it features an early use of the Moog Synthesizer on two tracks, the Nesmith-penned "Daily Nightly", along with "Star Collector". All of its songs, except for two, were featured on the Monkees' TV show during the second season.Recorded in June 1967, the song "What Am I Doing Hangin' 'Round?", featured on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. is seen as a landmark in the fusion of country and rock despite Nesmith's prior country-flavored rock songs for The Monkees. Nesmith stated, "One of the things that I really felt was honest was country-rock. I wanted to move The Monkees more into that because [...\] if we get closer to country music, we'll get closer to blues, and country blues, and so forth. [...\] It had a lot of un-country things in it: a familiar change from a I major to a VI minor—those kinds of things. So it was a little kind of a new wave country song. It didn't sound like the country songs of the time, which was Buck Owens."Their next single, "Daydream Believer" (with a piano intro written by Tork), would shoot to No. 1 on the charts, letting The Monkees hold the No. 1 position in the singles chart and the album chart with Pisces simultaneously. "Daydream Believer" used the non-album track "Goin' Down" as its B-side, which featured Nesmith & Tork on guitar with Micky on lead vocals.During their 1986 reunion, both Headquarters and Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn & Jones Ltd. would return to the charts for 17 weeks.

The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees

The Monkees decided that they no longer needed Chip Douglas as a producer, and starting in November 1967, they largely produced their own sessions. Although The Monkees albums after this date will state "Produced by The Monkees", they would mostly be recording as solo artists. In a couple of cases, Boyce & Hart had returned from the first two albums to produce, but credit was given to The Monkees. It was also during this time that Michael Nesmith recorded his first solo album, The Wichita Train Whistle Sings, a big band jazz instrumental collection of interpretations of Nesmith's compositions, arranged by the jazz musician, Shorty Rogers. Praised in The Los Angeles Times by the author of The Encyclopedia of Jazz, jazz critic Leonard Feather would state, "Verbally and musically, Mike Nesmith is one of the most articulate spokesmen for the new and literate breed of pop musicians who have spring from the loins of primitive rock. [The album\] with its carriage trade of symphony, rock, country, western, and swing, and with jazz riding in the caboose, may well indicate where contemporary popular music will be situated in the early 1970s."Considered by some to be The Monkees' "White Album" period (for example, Sandoval mentions this in the liner notes of Rhino Handmade's 2010 Deluxe reissue of the album), each of the Monkee's contributions reflected that individual's own musical tastes, which resulted in an eclectic album. Micky sang the pop songs (e.g., "I'll Be Back Upon My Feet"), and performed a double-vocal with Mike on the Nesmith/Allison composed "Auntie's Municipal Court". Davy sang the ballads (e.g., "Daydream Believer" and "We Were Made for Each Other") and Nesmith contributed some experimental songs, like the progressive "Writing Wrongs", the unusual hit song "Tapioca Tundra", and the lo-fi 1920s sound of "Magnolia Simms". This last song is notable for added effects to make it sound like an old record (even including a "record skipping" simulation) made before The Beatles "Honey Pie", which used a similar effect.Propelled by the hit singles "Daydream Believer" and "Valleri", along with Nesmith's self-penned top 40 hit "Tapioca Tundra", The Birds, The Bees & The Monkees reached No. 3 on the Billboard charts shortly after it was released in April 1968. It was the first album released after NBC announced they were not renewing The Monkees for a third season. The album cover—a quaint collage of items looking like a display in a jumble shop or toy store—was chosen over the Monkees' objections. It was the last Monkees' album to be released in separate, dedicated mono and stereo mixes. During the 1986 reunion, it would return to the Billboard charts for 11 weeks.Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & HartPartly because of repeats of the television series The Monkees on Saturday mornings and in syndication, The Monkees Greatest Hits charted in 1976. The LP, issued by Arista, who by this time had custody of the Monkees' master tapes, courtesy of their corporate owner, Screen Gems, was actually a re-packaging of an earlier (1972) compilation LP called Refocus that had been issued by Arista's previous label imprint, Bell Records, also owned by Screen Gems. Dolenz and Jones took advantage of this, joining ex-Monkees songwriters Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart to tour the United States. From 1975 to 1977, as the "Golden Hits of The Monkees" show ("The Guys who Wrote 'Em and the Guys who Sang 'Em!"), they successfully performed in smaller venues such as state fairs and amusement parks, as well as making stops in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and Singapore. They also released an album of new material as Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart. Nesmith had not been interested in a reunion. Tork claimed later that he had not been asked, although a Christmas single (credited to Micky Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork due to legal reasons) was produced by Chip Douglas and released on his own label in 1976. The single featured Douglas' and Howard Kaylan's "Christmas Is My Time Of Year" (originally recorded by a 1960s supergroup, Christmas Spirit), with a B-side of Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" (Douglas released a remixed version of the single, with additional overdubbed instruments, in 1986). This was the first (albeit unofficial) Monkees single since 1971. Tork also joined Dolenz, Jones, Boyce & Hart on stage at Disneyland on July 4, 1976, and also joined Dolenz and Jones on stage at the Starwood in Hollywood in 1977.Other semi-reunions occurred between 1970 and 1986. Peter Tork helped arrange a Micky Dolenz single, "Easy on You"/"Oh Someone" in 1971. Tork also recorded some unreleased tracks for Nesmith's Countryside label during the 1970s, and Dolenz (by then a successful television director in the United Kingdom) directed a segment of Nesmith's NBC-TV series Television Parts, although the segment in question was not included when the series' six episodes aired during the summer of 1985.

MTV and Nickelodeon reignite Monkeemania

Brushed off by critics during their heyday as manufactured and lacking talent, The Monkees experienced a critical and commercial rehabilitation two decades later. A Monkees TV show marathon ("Pleasant Valley Sunday") was broadcast on February 23, 1986, on the then five-year-old MTV video music channel. In February and March, Tork and Jones played together in Australia. Then in May, Dolenz, Jones, and Tork announced a "20th Anniversary Tour" produced by David Fishof and they began playing North America in June with Dolenz. Their original albums began selling again as Nickelodeon began to run their old series daily. MTV promotion also helped to resurrect a smaller version of Monkeemania, and tour dates grew from smaller to larger venues and became one of the biggest live acts of 1986 and 1987. A new greatest hits collection was issued reaching platinum status.By now, Nesmith was amenable to a reunion, but forced to sit out most projects because of prior commitments to his bustling Pacific Arts video production company. However, he did appear with the band in a 1986 Christmas medley music video for MTV, and appeared on stage with Dolenz, Jones, and Tork at the Greek Theatre, in Los Angeles, on September 7, 1986. In September 1988, the three rejoined to play Australia again, Europe and then North America, with that string of tours ending in September 1989. Mike again returned at the Universal Amphitheatre, Los Angeles, show on July 10, 1989 and took part in a dedication ceremony at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, when the Monkees received a TV star there in 1989.The sudden revival of the Monkees in 1986 helped move the first official Monkees single since 1971, "That Was Then, This Is Now", to the No. 20 position in Billboard Magazine. The success, however, was not without controversy. Davy Jones had declined to sing on the track, recorded along with two other new songs included in a compilation album, Then & Now... The Best of The Monkees. Some copies of the single and album credit the new songs to "the Monkees", others as "Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork (of the Monkees)". Reportedly, these recordings were the source of some personal friction between Jones and the others during the 1986 tour; Jones would typically leave the stage when the new songs were performed.Of note is that the 1980s Reunion tours had been the most lucrative venture the three had ever seen in their days as a Monkee, far surpassing the monies they had made in the 1960s. Mike had little financial need to join in Monkees-related projects, mostly as his mother Bette Nesmith Graham was the inventor of Liquid Paper, leaving Nesmith over $25 million upon her death in 1980.A new album by the touring trio, Pool It! (the Monkees' 10th), appeared the following year and was a moderate success. From 1986 to 1989, the Monkees would conduct major concert tours in the United States, Australia, Japan, and Europe.

New Monkees

In 1987, a new television series called New Monkees appeared. Four young musicians were placed in a similar series based on the original show, but "updated" for the 1980s. The New Monkees left the air after 13 episodes. (Neither Bob Rafelson nor Bert Schneider were involved in the development or production of the series, although it was produced by "Straybert Productions" headed by Steve Blauner, Rafelson and Schneider's partner in BBS Productions.)

1990s reunions

In the 1990s, the Monkees continued to record new material. In 1993, Dolenz and Jones worked together on a television commercial, and another reunion tour was launched with the two of them in 1994. Perhaps the greatest reunion of sorts was released by Rhino Records re-issuing all the original LPs on CD, each of which included between three to six bonus tracks of previously unreleased or alternate takes; the first editions came with collectible trading cards.Their 11th album Justus was released in 1996. It was the first since 1968 on which all four original members performed and produced. Justus was produced by the Monkees, all songs were written by one of the four Monkees, and it was recorded using only the four Monkees for all instruments and vocals, which was the inspiration for the album title and spelling (Justus = Just Us).The trio of Dolenz, Jones, and Tork reunited again for a successful 30th anniversary tour of American amphitheaters in 1996, while Nesmith joined them onstage in Los Angeles to promote the new songs from Justus. For the first time since the brief 1986 reunion, Nesmith returned to the concert stage for a tour of the United Kingdom in 1997, highlighted by two sold-out concerts at Wembley Arena in London. The full quartet also appeared in an ABC television special titled Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees, which was written and directed by Nesmith and spoofed the original series that had made them famous. Nevertheless, following the UK tour, Nesmith declined to continue future performances with the Monkees, having faced harsh criticism from the British music press for his deteriorating musicianship. Tork noted in DVD commentary that "In 1966, Nesmith had learned a reasonably good version of the famous 'Last Train to Clarksville' guitar lick, but in 1996, Mike was no longer able to play it" and so Tork took over the lead guitar parts.Nesmith's departure from the tour was acrimonious. Jones was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as complaining that Nesmith "made a new album with us. He toured Great Britain with us. Then all of a sudden, he's not here. Later, I hear rumors he's writing a script for our next movie. Oh, really? That's bloody news to me. He's always been this aloof, inaccessible person...the fourth part of the jigsaw puzzle that never quite fit in."

2000s reunions

Tork, Jones, and Dolenz toured the United States in 1997, after which the group took another hiatus until 2001 when they once again reunited to tour the United States. However, this tour was also accompanied by public sniping. Dolenz and Jones had announced that they had "fired" Tork for his constant complaining and threatening to quit. Tork was quoted as saying that, as well as the fact he wanted to tour with his own band, "Shoe Suede Blues." Tork told WENN News he was troubled by the overindulgence in alcohol by other members of the tour crew:Tork later stated in 2011 that the alcohol played only a small role and Tork then said, "I take full responsibility for the backstage problems on the 2001 tour. We were getting along pretty well until I had a meltdown. I ticked the other guys off good and proper and it was a serious mistake on my part. I was not in charge of myself to the best of my ability – the way I hope I have become since. I really just behaved inappropriately, honestly. I apologized to them." Jones and Dolenz went on to tour the United Kingdom in 2002, but Tork declined to participate. Jones and Dolenz toured the United States one more time as a duo in 2002, and then split to concentrate on their own individual projects. With different Monkees citing different reasons, the group chose not to mark their 40th anniversary in 2006.

2010–2011 reunions

In October, Jones stated that a reunion marking the band's 45th anniversary was a possibility. Noted Monkees biographer Andrew Sandoval commented in The Hollywood Reporter that he "spent three years cajoling them to look beyond their recent differences (which included putting aside solo projects to fully commit to The Monkees)."An Evening with The Monkees: The 45th Anniversary Tour commenced on May 12, 2011 in Liverpool, England, before moving to North America in June and July for a total of 43 performances. Sandoval noted, "Their mixed feelings on the music business and their long and winding relationship weighed heavily, but once they hit the stage, the old magic was apparent. For the next three months...[they brought\] the music and memories to fans in the band's grandest stage show in decades. Images from their series and films flashed on a huge screen behind them; even Rolling Stone, whose owner, Jann Wenner, has vowed to keep them out of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, gushed." Nesmith did not take part in the tour, which grossed approximately $4 million.On August 8, 2011, the band cancelled ten last-minute shows due to what was initially reported as "internal group issues and conflicts", though Tork later confirmed "there were some business affairs that couldn't be coordinated correctly. We hit a glitch and there was just this weird dislocation at one point." Jones clarified that "the (45th Anniversary) tour was only supposed to go until July. And it was great, the best time we've had because we're all on the same page now. We gelled onstage and off. But then more dates were being added. And more. And then the next thing we knew, they were talking about Japan, Australia, Brazil, and we were like, 'Wait a second. This is turning into something more than a tour.' We were doing 40 songs a night, plus other material. Some of these shows were 2/2 hours long. Then there was the travel, getting to the next venue with no time to revive. The audiences were great. But, let's face it, we're not kids."

Death of Jones and Reunion with Nesmith

The 45th anniversary tour would be the last with Jones, who died of a heart attack due to atherosclerosis on February 29, 2012. Soon thereafter, rumors began to circulate that Nesmith would reunite with Dolenz and Tork in the wake of Jones' death. This was confirmed on August 8, 2012, when the surviving trio announced a series of U.S. shows for November and December, commencing in Escondido, California and concluding in New York City. The brief tour marked the first time Nesmith performed with the Monkees since 1997, as well as the first without Jones. Jones' memory was honored throughout the shows via recordings and video. During one point, the band went quiet and a recording of Jones singing "I Wanna Be Free" played while footage of him was screening behind the band. For Jones' signature song, "Daydream Believer", Dolenz said that the band had discussed who should sing the song and had concluded that it should be the fans, saying "It doesn't belong to us anymore. It belongs to you."The Fall 2012 tour was very well received by both fans and critics, resulting in the band scheduling a 24-date summer tour for 2013. Dubbed “A Midsummer’s Night With the Monkees,” concerts also featured Nesmith, Dolenz and Tork. “The reaction to the last tour was euphoric,” Dolenz told Rolling Stone magazine. “It was pretty apparent there was a demand for another one.”In 2014, the Monkees were inducted into the Pop Music Hall of Fame at the 2014 Monkees Convention. At the convention the band announced a 2014 tour of the Eastern and Midwestern US. Studio recordings controversyCritics often accused the Monkees of cashing in on the Beatles' success, in effect "ripping off their image and style", or "copying them", and to make matters worse to the critics, the Monkees were very successful doing this despite having come from "manufactured" origins. They have been falsely accused of not being able to play any musical instruments and some critics, as early as 1967 and as late as 2012, after Davy Jones' death, falsely suggested that they did not even sing on their early albums. The origins of the myth that they could not play any instruments, or did not sing on the albums, come from the public backlash against the Monkees when it became widely known that the Wrecking Crew provided the backing tracks to some of the Monkees' music, especially the first two albums, and the fact that one of the Monkees had to learn the drums since he knew how to play only the guitar.When the Monkees toured the U.K. in 1967, there was a major controversy over the revelation that the group did not always play all of their own instruments in the studio, although they did play them all while touring (except for the solo segments which used backing band the Candy Store Prophets). The story made the front pages of several U.K. and international music papers, with the group derisively dubbed the "Pre-Fab Four". Nevertheless, they were generally welcomed by many British stars, who realized that the group included talented musicians and sympathized with their wish to have more creative control over their music. The Monkees frequently socialized with the likes of the Beatles, the Spencer Davis Group, and the Who.An example of how bad it had become is an interview with the Monkees at the end of episode No. 30 of their TV show, "Monkees in Manhattan", which first aired April 1967 (filmed in January 1967), where Bob Rafelson had to ask the Monkees about accusations that they did not play their instruments in concert, to which Nesmith responded, "“I'm fixin' to walk out there in front of fifteen thousand people, man! If I don't play my own instrument, I'm in a lot of trouble!"Many Monkees fans argued that the controversy unfairly targeted the band, while ignoring the fact that other leading British and American groups (such as the Beach Boys) habitually used session players on their recordings, including many of the same musicians who performed on records by the Monkees. This commonplace practice had previously passed without comment. The Beatles had led a wave of groups who provided most of their own instrumentation on their recordings and wrote most of their own songs. The comic book quality of the Monkees' television series (where they mimed song performances out of necessity) brought additional scrutiny of their recorded music. Both supporters and critics of the group agree that the producers and Kirshner had the good taste to use some of the best pop songwriters of the period. Neil Diamond, the Boyce-Hart partnership, Jack Keller, Gerry Goffin and Carole King, Harry Nilsson, Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, and many other highly regarded writers had songs recorded by the Monkees.In November 1967, the wave of anti-Monkee sentiment was reaching its peak while the Monkees released their fourth album, Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, & Jones Ltd. In liner notes for the 1995 re-release of this album, Nesmith was quoted as saying that after Headquarters, "The press went into a full-scale war against us, talking about how 'The Monkees are four guys who have no credits, no credibility whatsoever and have been trying to trick us into believing they are a rock band.' Number 1, not only was this not the case; the reverse was true. Number 2, for the press to report with genuine alarm that the Monkees were not a real rock band was looney tunes! It was one of the great goofball moments of the media, but it stuck."Davy Jones stated in 1969 to Tiger Beat, "I get so angry when musicians say, 'Oh, your music is so bad,' because it's not bad to the kids. Those people who talk about 'doing their own thing' are groups that go and play in the clubs that hold 50 people, while we're playing to 10,000 kids. You know, it hurts me to think that anybody thinks we're phony, because we're not. We're only doing what we think is our own thing."It was reported in Rolling Stone on October 11, 2011 that Tork still feels that the Monkees do not get the respect that they deserve. "With all due modesty since I had little to do with it, the Monkees' songbook is one of the better songbooks in pop history," he says. "Certainly in the top five in terms of breadth and depth. It was revealed that we didn't play our own instruments on the records much at the very moment when the idealism of early Beatlemania in rock was at its peak. So we became the ultimate betrayers. The origins of the group were obvious and everyone understood that, but suddenly some little switch was flipped and all that stuff came crashing down around our ears."

Timeline for the studio recordings controversy

  • 1962: Davy Jones lands the part of Michael in the stage show Peter Pan, in which he is coached on the tone of his voice. Later that year, he lands the role of the Artful Dodger in the Broadway musical production of Oliver! Michael Nesmith receives his first guitar during Christmas of 1962. He will build his proficiency with it to rehabilitate his hands after they are injured. Peter Tork takes part in folk ensembles. The initial idea for The Monkees is developed
  • 1963: Peter Tork moves to New York's Greenwich Village to play in various folk groups in music "basket" houses, where money is collected after each performance. While still performing in the musical Oliver!, Jones makes his first studio recordings of demonstration tapes of his singing. He is also nominated for a Tony award. Mike Nesmith performs solo and with folk groups and releases his first recording.
  • 1964: Micky Dolenz plays guitar and sings in his first band, The Missing Links. Dolenz had started playing Spanish guitar when he was 10–12 years old. Davy Jones signs recording contract with Colpix Records. He appears on The Ed Sullivan Show on the same night as The Beatles. This will bring him to the attention of Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider. Mike Nesmith wins Headliner Of the Year talent contest performing with John London. Tork tours with folk group.
  • 1965: Jones's first singles and album are released. He appears on Dick Clark's Where The Action Is. Nesmith releases more singles and plays with folk group. He records for Colpix. Record World gives one of Mike's singles a four star review. He appears on a couple of TV shows performing music. Tork still performs in Greenwich Village clubs. Micky sings on stage.At the end of the year, the four Monkees are cast in the TV show. Rafelson: "It's often been said that the Monkees were manufactured, but the term irritates me just a little bit. The Monkees were more like a Japanese marriage: arranged. In America and elsewhere the divorce rate is pretty high, but in Japan things go better."
  • April 1966: The Monkees begin rehearsing as a band to produce music for the upcoming TV Show and records. Mike, Micky and Peter were all experienced guitar players, but no one had experience playing the drums. Davy had been a singer on Broadway, but lacked any experience with any musical instruments. Producer Ward Sylvester tells Peter Tork that he would have signed the band even without a TV show.
  • May 1966: Filming for the TV show starts, taking 12 hours a day for the cast of the Monkees. The public is informed in the beginning that the Monkees are "manufactured," as seen in this Washington Post report: "The series stars a fearsome foursome in the Monkees, a wholly manufactured singing group of attractive young men who come off as a combination of The Beatles, the Dead End Kids and the Marx Brothers. Critics will cry foul. Longhairs will demand, outraged, that they be removed from the air. But the kids will adore the Monkees {...\] unlike other rock 'n' roll groups, the boys had never performed together before. Indeed, they'd never even met [...\] they've been working to create their own sound."
  • June 1966: Although the producers want the Monkees to create their own music, they had not progressed enough by this point and still lacked the "upbeat, young, happy, driving, pulsating sound" that they desired. Dolenz stated, "I'm sure that Rafelson and Schneider said in all honesty, 'Yeah, don't worry, when we start going you're gonna record your own tunes and it will be wonderful.' But the things get caught up in the inertia of the moment. NBC gets involved. RCA gets involved. Screen Gems gets involved. Millions and millions of dollars are on the line [...\] people aren't as forthcoming. Mike's style was very distinct, country-western, Peter was very folk-rock, neither of which at the time would have been considered mainstream pop. Davy would have done all Broadway tunes [...\] I ended up singing the leads [...\] pop-rock was more my style\]." However, they used selections of Mike's authorship and composition from the beginning.
  • June 10, 1966: The Monkees' first recording sessions take place. These sessions feature members of the "Wrecking Crew", a group of studio musicians in Los Angeles who would play on several Monkees album tracks, mostly those produced by Nesmith. These sessions were unsuccessful, however, and most future sessions in 1966 would feature the Candy Store Prophets, a studio band led by Boyce & Hart.
  • June 25, 1966: Monkees member Michael Nesmith produces his first Monkees track in a recording studio, his 2 self-composed songs "All the King's Horses," "The Kind of Girl I Could Love," plus "I Don't Think You Know Me," as a way for Raybert Productions to fulfill their promise to him to allow him to produce and record his own music. He is not allowed to play the instruments.
  • July 1966: Various producers from Boyce & Hart to Jack Keller to Michael Nesmith continue to record sessions. Nesmith gets all 4 members to sing on his productions. On July 18, 1966 Nesmith also gets Peter Tork to play guitar on the songs he is producing for the first time. Sessions continue in this manner, with the hired producers Boyce & Hart and Jack Keller and Monkees member Nesmith producing/recording songs in the studio through November 1966.
  • August 1966: The Monkees' first single is released.
  • September 1966: The Monkees' TV show premieres.
  • October 1966: The Monkees' debut album is released. Group member Mike Nesmith, in particular, is angered when he sees the album cover, because he thinks it makes it look like they played all of the instruments.
  • October 2, 1966: The Monkees give their first public interview, which appears in The New York Times, in which Davy Jones is asked if the big push for The Monkees is fair to the real rock groups, to which he responds, "... That's the breaks, but you can't fool the people, you really can't."
  • October 24, 1966: Newsweek interviews the Monkees. They are asked how the music is created. Davy Jones tells them, "This isn't a rock 'n' roll group. This is an act."
  • December 1966: The Monkees perform live in concert starting December 3, 1966. TV Week in the meantime, interviews the show's creator, Bob Rafelson about why the Monkees' public access to interviews is limited, wondering if it could be related to embarrassing questions regarding their musical prowess, to which Rafelson assures that they do all of their own playing and singing. He also states that interviews are almost impossible due to them spending 12 hours a day filming the TV show, 4 hours recording, rehearsing for concert tours, and spending some weekends making personal appearance tours. During this time frame, the Monkees are generally barred from making television appearances on shows outside of their own, as Raybert fears the group's overexposure.
  • December 27, 1966: The Monkees are again interviewed about their music in Look magazine. Peter Tork responds, "We have the potential, but there's not time to practice." Micky says, "We're advertisers. We're selling the Monkees. It's gotta be that way." Mike says, "They're in the middle of something good and they're trying to sell something. They want us to be The Beatles, but we're not. We're us. We're funny."
  • December 28, 1966: Weekly Variety reports that the Monkees are selling faster than The Beatles did at their launch.
  • January 1967: The Monkees' second album is released while they were on tour, without the Monkees' knowledge. This upsets Mike and Peter, as they had been told that they were going to be doing their own album. Micky and Davy are initially indifferent because to them, coming from the acting world, it was just a soundtrack to the TV show and they were doing their job by singing what they were asked to sing. But when they saw how angry Mike and Peter were, they too joined in that anger.
  • January 16, 1967: Four months after their first single is released, The Monkees hold their first recording session as a self-contained, fully functioning band.
  • January 28, 1967: Band member Michael Nesmith speaks to the Saturday Evening Post in an expose, stating, "The music had nothing to do with us. It was totally dishonest. Do you know how debilitating it is to sit up and have to duplicate somebody else's records? That's really what we're doing. The music happened in spite of the Monkees. It was what Kirshner wanted to do. Our records are not our forte. I don't care if we never sell another record. Maybe we were manufactured [...\] Tell the world we're synthetic because [...\] we are. Tell them The Monkees are wholly man-made overnight, that millions of dollars have been poured into this thing. Tell the world we don't record our own music. But that's us they see on television. That show is really a part of us. They're not seeing something invalid." Nesmith stated later, "The press decided they were going to unload on us as being somehow illegitimate, somehow false. That we were making an attempt to dupe the public, when in fact it was me that was making the attempt to maintain the integrity. So, the press went into a full-scale war against us. Telling us The Monkees are four guys who have no credits, no credibility whatsoever, who have been trying to trick us into believing that they are a rock band. Number one, not only was it not the case, the reverse was true. Number two, [for\] the press to report with genuine alarm that The Monkees were not a real rock band was looney tunes. It was one of the great goofball moments of the media, but it stuck."
  • February 4, 1967: Although the Monkees have continued to play and record their own music for their upcoming album, Davy Jones records some songs with hired producer Jeff Barry.
  • February 1967: Kirshner works behind the Monkees' backs to release another single without the band's knowledge.
  • February 25, 1967: Davy Jones is interviewed for the New Musical Express, and says, "I can only speak for myself. I am an actor and I have never pretended to be anything else. The public have made me into a rock 'n' roll singer. No one is trying to fool anyone! People have tried to put us down by saying we copied The Beatles. So, all right, maybe the Monkees is a half-hour Hard Day's Night. But now we read that The Who are working on a TV series around a group. Now who's copying who?"
  • February 27, 1967: Don Kirshner is dismissed as Music Coordinator for the Monkees, primarily due to his handling of the third would-be-but-withdrawn single from The Monkees. Lester Sill takes his place. The Monkees continue recording their own songs, with them playing instruments, getting ready for their next album. In the meantime, the Nesmith-penned "The Girl I Knew Somewhere" is released as part of the Monkees third single, which features the Monkees playing as a self-contained band, which becomes a top 40 hit.
  • May 1967: The Monkees' first self made album, Headquarters, is released.
After Headquarters, the Monkees started using a mixture of themselves playing along with other musicians, including members of the Wrecking Crew and Candy Store Prophets along with other musicians such as Stephen Stills, Neil Young and Harry Nilsson but they still wrote, sang, produced & played on their remaining albums, except for their final offering from the original incarnation in 1970, Changes, which was recorded after Mike and Peter had left the group and featured Micky and Davy singing to the backing tracks of what Davy referred to in the liner notes of the 1994 reissue that album as "a rejected Andy Kim album." In the same liner notes, Davy stated that he was unhappy about that recording and claimed that it was not a real album. The final album featured one Micky Dolenz composition.Peter Tork commented on some of the controversy when writing about Davy Jones's death: "When we first met, I was confronted with a slick, accomplished, young performer, vastly more experienced than I in the ways of show biz, and yes, I was intimidated. Englishness was at a high premium in my world, and his experience dwarfed my entertainer's life as a hippie, basket-passing folk singer on the Greenwich Village coffee house circuit. If anything, I suppose I was selected for the cast of 'The Monkees' TV show partly as a rough-hewn counterpart to David's sophistication. [...\] The Monkees—the group now, not the TV series—took a lot of flack for being 'manufactured,' by which our critics meant that we hadn't grown up together, paying our dues, sleeping five to a room, trying to make it as had the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Furthermore, critics said, the Monkees' first albums—remember albums?—were almost entirely recorded by professional studio musicians, with hardly any input from any of us beyond lead vocals."I felt this criticism keenly, coming as I did from the world of the ethical folk singer, basically honoring the standards of the naysayers. We did play as a group live on tour."

Meeting the Beatles

Critics of the Monkees observed that they were simply the "Pre-Fab four", a made-for-TV knockoff of The Beatles; The Beatles, however, took it in their stride and hosted a party for the Monkees when they visited England. The party occurred during the time when The Beatles were recording Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; as such, the party inspired the line in the Monkees' tune "Randy Scouse Git", written by Dolenz, which read, "the four kings of EMI are sitting stately on the floor."George Harrison praised their self-produced musical attempts, saying, "It's obvious what's happening, there's talent there. They're doing a TV show, it's a difficult chore and I wouldn't be in their shoes for the world. When they get it all sorted out, they might turn out to be the best." (Tork was later one of the musicians on Harrison's Wonderwall Music, playing Paul McCartney's five-string banjo.)Nesmith attended the "A Day in the Life" sessions at Abbey Road Studios; he can be seen in The Beatles' home movies, including one scene where he is talking with John Lennon. During the conversation, Nesmith had reportedly asked Lennon "Do you think we're a cheap imitation of the Beatles, your movies and your records?" to which Lennon assuredly replied, "I think you're the greatest comic talent since the Marx Brothers. I've never missed one of your programs." Nesmith wrote about this encounter on Facebook:Dolenz was also in the studio during a Sgt. Pepper session, which he mentioned while broadcasting for WCBS-FM in New York (incidentally, he interviewed Ringo Starr on his program). On February 21, 1967, he attended the overdub and mixing session for The Beatles' "Fixing a Hole" at EMI's Abbey Road studio 2.During the 1970s, during Lennon's infamous "lost weekend", John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Micky Dolenz, Harry Nilsson and Keith Moon often hung out together, and were collectively known in the press as "The Hollywood Vampires".Paul McCartney can be seen in the 2002 concert film Back in the U.S. singing "Hey, Hey, We're The Monkees", the theme from The Monkees show, while backstage.The Monkees "Cuddly Toy" and "Daddy's Song" were written by songwriter Harry Nilsson. "Cuddly Toy" would be recorded several months before Nilsson's own debut in October 1967. At the press conference announcing the formation of Apple, The Beatles named Harry Nilsson as both their favorite American artist and as their favorite American group. Derek Taylor, The Beatles's press officer, had introduced them to Harry's music.In 1995, Ringo Starr joined Davy, Peter, Micky to film a Pizza Hut commercial.Julian Lennon was a fan, stating at the time of Davy Jones' passing, "You did some Great work!"

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In June 2007, Tork complained to the New York Post that Jann Wenner had blackballed the Monkees from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio. Tork stated:In a Facebook post, Nesmith stated that he does not know if The Monkees belong in the Hall of Fame because he can only see the impact of The Monkees from the inside, and further stated: "I can see the HOF (Hall of Fame) is a private enterprise. It seems to operate as a business, and the inductees are there by some action of the owners of the Enterprise. The inductees appear to be chosen at the owner's pleasure. This seems proper to me. It is their business in any case. It does not seem to me that the HOF carries a public mandate, nor should it be compelled to conform to one."Various magazines and news outlets, such as Time, NPR radio, The Christian Science Monitor, Goldmine magazine, Yahoo Music and MSNBC have argued that The Monkees belong in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame.

Originally unreleased recordings

Beginning in 1987, Rhino Records started to make available previously unreleased Monkees recordings on a series of albums called Missing Links. Having numerous quality songwriters, musicians, producers and arrangers—along with high budgets—at their hands while making albums during the 1960s, the band was able to record as many songs as the Beatles in half the time.The three volumes of this initial series contained 59 songs. These include the group's first recordings as a self-contained band, including the intended single "All Of Your Toys," Nesmith's Nashville sessions, and alternate versions of songs featured only on the television series. The Listen to the Band box set also contained previously unreleased recordings, as did the 1994-95 series CD album reissues. Rhino/Rhino Handmade's Deluxe Edition reissue series has also included alternate mixes, unreleased songs, and the soundtrack to 33 1/3 Revolutions Per Monkee.

Radio stations playing it

Bailiwick Radio 60's

Bailiwick Radio 60's


Hot tracks

The Monkees - I'm A Believer

I'm A Believer


The Monkees - Last Train To Clarksville

Last Train To Clarksville


The Monkees - Mary Mary

Mary Mary


The Monkees - Tear Drop City

Tear Drop City


The Monkees - Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Da

Tomorrow's Gonna Be Another Da